LAPEER (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan man convicted of felony murder and home invasion in the 2006 slaying of an 86-year-old Lapeer County woman has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Frank Choate, 43, of Sandusky, was given the mandatory term earlier this week in a Lapeer County courtroom. A jury convicted Choate in November in the case.

Choate’s lawyer has said Choate maintains his innocence. An appeal is planned.

Police say Marie Warren was killed during a robbery gone wrong. She was found beaten to death on Oct. 1, 2006, in Deerfield Township, about 60 miles north of Detroit, in a ditch about five miles away from her home. Her fingers and thumbs had been cut off.

Choate was charged in July 2011 with home invasion and other charges. The murder charge was added later, in September 2012, after a jail inmate told detectives that Choate told him about the crimes during a chess match.

Investigators say a strand of Choate’s hair gave them the DNA evidence they needed to crack the case, WJRT-TV reported.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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